World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

10 May, 1999


The World Council of Churches (WCC) is among the founding members of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) which will be launched at The Hague, Netherlands, on Tuesday, 11 May, on the occasion of the Hague Appeal for Peace conference, 11-15 May.

IANSA brings together more than 200 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It will be one of the biggest international campaign networks of NGOs since the anti-landmines campaign. IANSAs objective is to "prevent the proliferation and mis-use of small arms".

In a press release issued last week, IANSA identifies the proliferation and mis-use of small arms as "one of the greatest humanitarian challenges for the next millennium": "Small arms - handguns, rifles, machine guns and mortars - are the weapons causing misery and destruction across the world. Since 1990, three million people ... have been killed by small arms." IANSA will work "to reduce the demand for small arms by civilians and governments; stem the supply of small arms; stop the illegal gun trade; reduce the quantity of guns in circulation; and reverse cultures of violence."

WCC played a key role in the creation of IANSA
Welcoming the launch of IANSA, Salpy Eskidjian, WCC executive secretary for international relations, said: "Together with our ecumenical partners we have been playing a key role in the creation of IANSA since 1998. The issue of disarmament has been on the WCC agenda for a long time. In this context our concerted effort and focus on micro disarmament is a major contribution to the ecumenical commitment to overcome violence and to build a culture of peace."

Salpy Eskidjian especially welcomed the initiative of WCCs Peace to the City partner VIVA RIO in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who also on Tuesday, 11 May, will launch a signature campaign to support a proposed national law to ban the trade of small arms in Brazil. AWe need to encourage and support local and national initiatives such as these at the international level, as well as make a concerted global effort with governmental and non-governmental actors to curb the proliferation of small arms."

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.